1991 Scorecard Vote
This vote was on a motion by Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) to table (kill) an amendment offered by Senator Steve Symms (R-ID) to the 1991 Surface Transportation Reauthorization. A similar amendment (also offered by Symms) to the 1990 Farm Bill was narrowly defeated last year.
The Symms Amendment, on the pretext of protecting private property rights, would threaten many of the nation's key environmental policies by codifying a seriously flawed 1988 Executive Order. Under the guise of ensuring that all governmental actions comply with the Just Compensation Clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, the EO requires federal agencies to perform "Takings Implications Assessments" (TIAs) and applies to all regulation, proposed regulation, denial, or conditioning of permits, comments on legislation, and policy statements.
Environmentalists agree with the 1988 report by the Congressional Research Service that the EO is an erroneous interpretation of the Just Compensation Clause. The Fifth Amendment already provides land owners adequate protection from illegal government "takings" of property without just compensation. The Symms Amendment further ties up federal agency efforts to protect public health, safety, and the environment. The agencies affected by the EO pass hundreds of regulations and make thousands of regulatory decisions each year. The Symms Amendment would have a chilling effect on the issuance of regulations to protect public health and the environment, and it would impose additional delays and burdens on regulation writing and permit issuance procedures.
The Mitchell motion to table the Symms Amendment was rejected 44-55 on June 12, 1991. YES is the pro-environment vote. The Symms Amendment was subsequently adopted by voice vote.